To Veto or Not to Veto? Sweden and Finland’s NATO Bids in Limbo as Turkiye, Hungary Mull Pros & Cons
Flags of Finland, left, NATO and Sweden, right, are displayed during a ceremony to mark Sweden’s and Finland’s application for membership in Brussels, Belgium, Wednesday May 18, 2022. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that the military alliance stands ready to seize a historic moment and move quickly on allowing Finland and Sweden to join its ranks, after the two countries submitted their membership requests. (Johanna Geron/Pool via AP)InternationalIndiaAfricaFinland started a parliamentary debate over accelerating the country’s accession to NATO on February 28. Helsinki seems to be ready to join the military bloc without its neighbor, Sweden. Meanwhile, Hungary and Turkiye are having second thoughts on the Nordics’ bids.Finnish MPs are due to vote on accepting the terms of the NATO treaty on Wednesday. After the bill is passed by the parliament, the president has three months to ratify it. Helsinki had previously signaled its willingness to join the military bloc together with Sweden; but the latest developments in the Finnish parliament suggest that the nation is ready to move forward alone.Previously-neutral Finland and Sweden formally announced their NATO bids on May 15, 2022. While Sweden’s neutrality was self-declared and not enshrined in law, Finland’s was stipulated by the Paris Peace Treaty of 1947 which was signed after the end of the Second World War between the Allied powers – including the USSR, the UK, the US and France – and former Nazi Germany allies, such as Italy, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Finland. In addition, Finland’s NATO bid also violates the 1992 Russo-Finnish treaty, as per the Russian Foreign Ministry.For its part, Moscow has expressed deep concerns over the NATO accession and the bloc’s forthcoming expansion towards Russia’s frontiers: Finland shares a 1,340 km (830 mi) border with Russia.Remarkably, popular support for NATO membership in both Nordic states has never been particularly high. According to a 2021 poll commissioned by EVA Finnish Business and Policy Forum, around 26% of Finns were in favor of joining NATO, 40% against and 33% remained undecided. A January 2022 Demoskop survey showed 42% of Swedes supported NATO accession and 37% opposed it. However, western hysteria and information wars over Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine appear to have invigorated NATO proponents in both Nordic countries. Moscow has repeatedly underscored that Russia harbors no hostile intentions against either nation.MilitarySweden, Finland Should Join NATO by Mid-July, Bloc Chief Says18 February, 15:48 GMT
Turkiye’s Concerns Over Sweden & Finland Sheltering PKK & FETO
It’s not only Russia which has expressed concerns over Finland and Sweden’s NATO bids. Initially, Turkiye blocked the countries’ applications, citing security concerns and accusing Helsinki and Stockholm of not doing enough to thwart a terror threat Ankara claims to be posed by Kurdish organizations.On June 29, 2022, Turkiye, Sweden and Finland signed a security memorandum that green-lighted Helsinki and Stockholm’s NATO membership under a set of conditions concerning the activities of Kurdish and Fethulla Gulen’s organizations (FETO), both banned by Turkiye, in the two European states.Nonetheless, these conditions have not been fully met so far, according to Ankara. To complicate matters further, a copy of the Quran was burnt in front of the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm on January 21, throwing a new wrench in the Nordics’ NATO bid. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Sweden on January 23 that it should not expect his backing to join NATO following the incident.WorldTurkish Foreign Minister Says Ankara Still Unable to Approve Sweden’s NATO Application27 February, 12:09 GMT”I don’t think that Turkiye will be vetoing Sweden’s NATO bid, but [it] will not be approving the Swedish accession to NATO,” Dr. Hasan Selim Ozertem, an Ankara-based security and political analyst, told Sputnik. “So Sweden will be waiting at the door. Their membership can be happening a little bit later than Finland’s, or they might be waiting a little bit longer than expected. Before, as you know, Finland was saying that we can join NATO with Sweden, we made this application together.”
The Finnish position has changed and they are saying that – all right, we'd be happy to join NATO as soon as possible once Turkiye has approached a Finnish accession. In this regard, Sweden can be left in the middle. On the other hand, it should be noted here that there was an expectation of Hungary's approval of these Scandinavian countries’ accession to NATO in February. It seems that the voting process is postponed to March, and it should be also followed closely.
Dr. Hasan Selim OzertemAnkara-based security and political analystOn January 24, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto suggested that Finland might decide to decouple its application from that of Sweden. For his part, Erdogan has nodded at Finland’s bid.Even though the Turkiye-Sweden talks resumed in February, the Turkish leadership signaled on Monday that it is still unable to approve Sweden’s accession to NATO at this stage as Stockholm has not fully implemented its agreements with Ankara.”Turkiye is not necessarily against NATO expansion as long as there is a general consensus in the alliance,” Hasan Unal, professor of political science and international relations at Istanbul Maltepe University, told Sputnik. “However, it certainly uses its veto power to protect its national interests, like in this case with Sweden, which has basically made itself a paradise for all those terrorist organizations against Turkiye.””The likelihood is that Turkiye would not necessarily ratify Sweden’s admission to the alliance. But the problem is a technical problem. I think the accession treaty was made for both countries, whether actually you can separate Sweden from Finland and then whether you can actually approve one without necessarily approving the other. In that case, maybe the whole process will have to restart by which Finland would have to make an application and Turkey would not raise any issue with Finland, and Sweden would remain in the background,” Unal continued.NATO Biggest Threat to Turkey’s Independence and Sovereignty, Turkish Observers Say27 January, 13:09 GMTTurkiye won’t veto Sweden’s accession to the bloc, believes Dr. Huseyin Bagci, head of the Foreign Policy Institute and a lecturer at the Department of International Relations at the Middle East Technical University. According to him, both Sweden and Finland will become NATO members this year. Still, Sweden-Turkiye tensions continue to simmer, he admitted.”Sweden does not consider Fethullah Gulen’s Movement to be a terrorist organization, which the Turkish government is actually claiming. But with PKK and YPG, Turkey is definitely expecting certain steps forward. But there will also be no extraditions in this respect because they are all Swedish citizens and this is a problem,” Bagci told Sputnik.In addition, Turkiye has been recently at odds with NATO over Ankara obtaining Russia-made S-400 air defense systems and subsequent removal of Turkiye from the US-led multinational fifth-generation F-35 fighter jet program in 2019 – even though the Mideast nation invested $1.4 billion (TL 24.2 billion). Ankara has also repeatedly expressed concerns over NATO’s growing closeness with Greece, Turkiye’s longtime rival. The Turkish leadership is also dissatisfied with Greece’s reported military deployments on the east Aegean islands, which were ceded to Greece by the Ottoman Empire on the specific and strict condition that they be kept demilitarized.Russia’s Special Operation in UkraineHungary’s Orban Snubs Biden, Skips Big Meeting of Leaders of NATO’s Eastern Flank22 February, 18:00 GMT
Budapest: Finns and Swedes ‘Spreading Lies’ About Hungarian Democracy
Meanwhile, Hungary has also been delaying ratification of Finland and Sweden’s NATO bids. Last Friday, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that the Hungarian parliament is not enthusiastic about ratifying the bids since the Finnish and Swedish authorities were spreading “shameless lies” about Hungarian democracy and the rule of law in the country.
"I'm not expecting Hungary to veto, but delay or postpone this voting issue depending on its interests," Dr. Hasan Selim Ozertem said. "So, as the other 28 member states of NATO ratify the accession of these Scandinavian countries to NATO, I don't think that Turkiye or Hungary will be acting otherwise. In this regard, there will be a longer process in the waiting room, but probably Hungary will be acting a little bit faster than Turkiye, because here Turkiye has some other concerns, particularly related to its national security."
“Regarding Hungary, it’s more political. The criticisms against Hungary’s quality of democratic standards, it’s being criticized by these Scandinavian countries. And it was the reason that Hungary mentioned making a postponement in this voting process. I’m not expecting a veto, but a little bit of postponement, particularly on the Turkish side. Hungary will be moving a little bit faster than Turkiye,” Ozertem continued.On February 25, Orban’s Chief of Staff Gergely Gulyas hinted at a possible further delay in Budapest’s ratification of the Nordics’ bids, suggesting that a vote may take place only in the second half of March.”Parliament will put this on the agenda on Monday and start debating the legislation next week,” Gulyas told the press. “Based on Hungarian procedure, adopting legislation takes about four weeks, so it follows that parliament can have a vote on this sometime in the second half of March, on the week of March 21.”Gulyas also noted that some Hungarian government politicians want to get guarantees from the two NATO candidates that politically motivated attacks against Budapest will be stopped once they join the defense alliance. According to him, the diversity of the press in the two Nordic countries does not meet the high standards that have been set in Hungary, in an apparent reference to nearly a monopoly of the left-wing media giants in Finland and Sweden.AnalysisSy Hersh on US Proxy War on Russia, Snowden’s Expose & Nord Stream Sabotage25 February, 19:05 GMT
NATO Proxy War in Ukraine & Nord Stream Sabotage
The Hungarian leadership likewise appears discontented with NATO’s ramping up its proxy conflict with Russia in Ukraine and protracting the standoff by sending more and more weapons to the Kiev regime. Last week, Orban skipped a meeting with President Joe Biden and the leaders of NATO’s eastern flank, leaving Hungary’s ceremonial president, Katalin Novak, to attend in his place.In addition, Budapest has called on the United Nations to launch an investigation into the “scandalous” attack on the Nord Stream pipelines that Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh has argued were destroyed by two members of the NATO alliance, the US and Norway. According to Hersh’s source, the explosives were planted in June 2022 by US operatives under the guise of the BALTOPS 22 NATO exercise and were detonated in September 2022.The Hungarian leadership is now urging the UN to kick off a “comprehensive, deep, structured and detailed” probe, after Russia’s resolution seeking a similar investigation into the matter was rejected in the UN Security Council. Sweden refused to share its findings concerning the sabotage and is continuing to keep its cards close to its chest. Denmark and Germany, who have also conducted their separate probes into the matter, also remain tight-lipped.